Meridian's Development on Slate

Recommendations for downtown development were made by the Urban Land Institute in a visit to Meridian last summer. Tuesday, the city reported on some ideas that have received action and others that are pending.

The Mississippi State-Riley Performing Arts Center and the Threefoot Building are considered the "anchors" for developing downtown Meridian and its long-range success.

Work continues on the Riley-Opera House project, slated for completion in August 2006, And according to the mayor, there could be movement soon on the Threefoot Building designated as a possible hotel-convention center.

"I'm hopeful within the next 60 to 90 days we'll be able to speak about that publicly, and of course the Threefoot is the building that gives our downtown its skyline," Smith said.

The Urban Land Institute suggested adding museums to mark the city's history and eliminating one-way streets. That hasn't yet been done, but sprucing up streets with trees and plants to create a better image has already begun. The look of vintage lights, but better lighting, is another recommendation.

"Downtown condominiums and the other condominiums on Front Street, they're lighted very, very well, and that's what we like in the Police Department, your Police Department," said assistant chief Keith McCary.

The mayor said the good news is the private sector is involved and that there's motion on all of the ULI's recommendations, whether it be action or planning.

"The main accomplishment is we have commitments on tax credits, historic tax credits, new tax credits; we'll be getting that allocation in May," said Smith. "And that allocation is going to make things like the Threefoot possible and these various museums come into reality."

Smith said some aspects will come about in two to three years, others in five to seven years.